Another Oklahoma abortion law was ruled Friday to be unconstitutional. The 2009 law was intended to prevent a mother from picking the gender of her child through abortions. It made it illegal for a doctor to do the procedure if the doctor knew a woman’s sole reason was she wanted a baby of a different sex. Attorneys said worldwide most abortions done for gender reasons involve female fetuses. Oklahoma County District Judge Dan Owens ruled Friday that legislators put into the law multiple subjects unrelated to its underlying purpose. He ruled the law violated a requirement in the state constitution that legislation cover a single subject. "It’s pretty disturbing we have to pass a statute to prevent people from doing that,” the judge said of gender-selection abortions. "It’s uncivilized.” The law also would have required doctors to report detailed information about abortions to the state Health Department, including the age, marital status and education level of patients. An opponent of the law, the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights, said the requirements would have cost more than $250,000 a year to implement. "The government has no business running a grand inquisition into the private lives of Oklahoma women,” said Jennifer Mondino, an attorney for the center, which filed the legal challenge to the law on behalf of two Oklahoma women. Legislators were critical of the ruling but said they already were working to pass abortion laws that would survive legal challenges. "We filed this important, pro-life legislation in separate bills this session to avoid any single-subject conflict,” said Rep. Dan Sullivan, author of the law struck down Friday. "I fail to see how two sections of the bill, both dealing with abortion, would violate the single-subject provision of the Oklahoma Constitution,” said Sullivan, R-Tulsa. "The logic that has been used … could bring the legislative process to a halt by allowing an interest group to form an argument that any bill with more than one section would violate the single-subject provision.”Comments
Other ruling appealedIn August, another Oklahoma County judge struck down a 2008 abortion law after deciding it violated the single-subject rule. That decision is on appeal at the state Supreme Court. The most controversial aspect of the 2008 law was a requirement that an abortion doctor or medical technician give a pregnant woman an ultrasound at least an hour before the procedure and display the images of the unborn baby where the woman could see them. The 2008 law also would have required the doctor or technician to describe what the woman was seeing, including if the fetus’ heart was beating. The ultrasound requirement has been resurrected this legislative session, too, in a House bill.